Thursday, August 31, 2006

Organizing Crew

One of the biggest tasks I have had to face is finding crew, organizing and training them. I finally feel like we are on the verge of becoming a good crew able to compete at the next level. The key to the next phase will be practice, practice and then more practice.

I think it is time to sit down and define clear roles and tasks within the crew. Over the winter I will try and organize some crew events to keep in-touch and review videos etc. (while drinking rum of course!) and plan together the next season.

I have read a number of articles in the past about crew organization and tasking. I will review and post thoughts on this. One key element will be start to parse out the tasks of crew chief. Responsibilities will most likely include arranging practice times and dates as well as developing a practice regimen to work on our weak areas.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Fall Is In the Air

Smells like Fall which means only one thing. It will be time to haul-out soon. I hate haul-out. It will mean a long winter of off-season with no sailing what-so-ever! However I can use this time to brush up on basics and research, research, research.

The basin regatta is September 9, 10 so I have a few weeks in-between to possibly do some practicing and get together with the crew to discuss plans for next year. Our bowman crewed on another boat last few days and has some good notes to share. The tactician also has been reviewing the J videos and making notes as well.

The crew has requested that we sit down and write out responsibilities for each member. Up to this point we have been fairly loose as to exact duties. I think we are on the verge of becoming a tight crew and it is time to step things up a notch. Looking forward to next season already.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Summer Series 2006 Race 7 Results

Results and notes from Summer Series 7 are posted here.

Winds prior to race were West and shifted to North just prior to race. The course was a bit confusing. I had to get my bearings on the next mark and where the wind was coming from for the pre-race. The course was an overall beam reach to beam reach. This threw me off a bit because of all the windward, leeward class races recently.

Overall boat speed was good. We undertuned the rig and it seemed to give us extra power and speed. I also tried sailing with boom vang, outhaul and backstay off and only a little cunningham on. This also seemed to make a difference. The traveller over all was centred but occasionally in gusts I dropped it a touch and alternated between letting the main out and adjusting the traveller. I kept the boat as flat as possible and we seemed to benefit from it quite a bit.

The low point of the race was rounding the second mark. I got into a situation where there was overlap and had to give way. I was over cautious and gave too much room. When I headed up to fetch the mark I went too far into the wind and lost power.. We lost speed and I had to foot off to regain speed in order to tack. By the time we gained enough speed to clear the mark on a tack large boats were fetching the mark which I had to give way to. I ended up getting shadowed big time on the next leg.

Gaining confidence back. Next race should be a good one. Will have my head back in the game again soon. Looking forward to the Basin regatta.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Rooting out Boatspeed Issues

In an effort to achieve maximum boatspeed and figure out our pointing issue I came across this explaination from Ullman Skelly Sails regarding Tuning and the" J dimension". I took the opportunity to measure as much of the bottom of the boat as possible when it was out of the water for Kingston. The one thing I have not measured yet (or paid enough attention to) is the mast height and forestay length. This article seems to get at the root of our problem, and gives solutions that are worth investigating. The following is an excerpt from the Ullman Skelly Sails site.

The J-24 has an inherent problem of leeward helm. Leeward helm is evident when the center of effort above the waterline is too far forward in the boat, meaning the boat is not well balanced. The problem of leeward helm can be detrimental to boat speed and pointing ability, especially in light air. Leeward helm will make it difficult to steer the boat to windward where a balanced helm or a slight amount of weather helm will help the helmsman keep the boat in the grove while sailing very flat. “The flatter you can sail a J-24 to windward while staying in the groove, the faster the boat will go!”

By shortening the mast to minimum and lengthening the headstay and J measurement to maximum, you move the sail plan as far back as the class rules allow. Raking the mast aft will move the center of effort aft in the boat, which will induce more weather helm in the boat.

Note: If possible, we recommend having a certified J-24 class measurer mark your minimum mast length, maximum headstay length and maximum J. To cut your spar as close to class minimum as possible, you will need a class jig. There seems to be some discrepancy from one boat to another to exactly where the stem/sheer line point is at the bow. This point can make a big difference in your headstay length and J dimension. It is crucial to your upwind light air performance to have the mast length as close to minimum and the "J" measurement and headstay length as close to maximum as possible.

Monday, August 21, 2006

This is Class Racing!

Here are the J80 North Americas, May 2006. This is the kind of competition we faced recently at CORK. Much tighter pack and some good fights for position around the marks. Some close calls (John and Tim this one is for you guys for giving me a hard time about my last few incidents! Non-sailors :-D ).

This is What it is All About

Great video of club racing. Courtesy of Google video. It is pretty difficult to explain to non-sailors, the rush and complexity of racing sailboats. So for all the non-sailors this gives you an insight into the race course. Check the spinnaker work out at the end of the video. Looks like they recover but the video ends before it is certain.

Sad Day for Sailing Bloggers

It has come to my attention that Tillerman, the author of the premier sailing blog "proper course" is considering scuttling the blog. His post this morning mentions time for a change. I think the loss of this particular blog would have an impact sailing blogs in general. The main reason I started my blog was to help fill the void of sailing blogs out there. The community has grown since, and there the numbers are increasing but as far as quality blogs "the Proper Course" is at the top!

Many thanks TIllerman for posting. I hope you do re-consider but if not Thanks for the ride!

Friday, August 18, 2006

J/24 Polar Diagram

I manage to get my hands on a very old polar diagram noting VMG and optimum beat and run angles. I cleaned it up and posted it here for anyone who wants it. I have seen a number of searches and people on forums trying to find one.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Little Feel Good

So I have been feeling a bit tense about the whole few incidents lately. Thought I would check the web out for something that would make me feel a bit better. Found it. Compiled a few shots that made me smile and be thankful that we were not in them. Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Shaken not Stirred

Need to get back on the horse so t speak. Two collisions in 10 day span....pretty nerve racking. I had tremendous hesitation on Sunday from shaken confidence. I know things happen in racing, and i need to get back in the saddle and find the edge again. The little part of you that takes the extra risk (albeit calculated).

I need to focus on the race. I had planned on going down later but will head out for the club now and spend some time tidying up the boat from the weekend to try and get my head in the right place.


Very tough weekend at CORK. Another collision (this time not my fault, although the boat as a whole needs to be more vigilant about where the competitors are at all times). Overall an amazing weekend. Tough in the sense of trailing the pack each time was difficult emotionally. The crew gave a huge effort all around.

The first race we did horribly. DFL! and DNF! Time limit restriction on the race scoring. The second race was a disaster as well. Primarily upwind we did not have the boat speed. The crew scrambled to analyze the other boats and try and find out the differences between the boats. What were we doing differently. We had tangled spinnaker issues again. It seems as though the takedown was the culprit again. To remedy this we re-flaked on the upwind.

The third race was even more of a disaster. We bailed after spinnaker issues again.

The fourth race of the day however, after re-grouping and analyzing saw us at the back of the pack but much closer to the fleet then ever before. We were having a really good race. The second upwind leg, mid course we tacked to starboard and checked the and planned our approach to the layline on the next tack. We were lifted and tried to get as much out of it as possible.

I heard a loud "Oh F_ck" and looked in my jib window. I saw a bow number about 15-20 feet out. I had to process which way they were going and try and make a split second decision. I chose to bear away and ended up t-boning another boat.

No serious bodily injuries (a good thing considering). My thanks go out to the organizers of CORK and to Boat Services Kingston and Ross Cameron for having Nillo (an amazing craftsman) work through the night to get us both back on the water for Sunday.

I am waiting on pictures now of the weekend and will post as I get them in.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Off to CORK

Took the mast down yesterday amongst grumbles from the crew "...this is all wrong", pointing to the fact that it was Wednesday and they wanted to be on the water racing. I wanted to be out there too. With every passing gust the grumbles came louder and louder!

If there was not so much to do still to prep for the race and figure out logistically (not to mention the work deadlines that I really needed to pay attention to so I can keep sailing!) I would have said eff it let's race then take the mast down. Hauling the boat out today at 3:00pm and on the road tonight to Kingston Portsmouth Olympic Harbour for the festivities.

Overall should be a good couple days racing. Look for update soon.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Way I saw It

Tiller man asked for a diagram. So here it is. Now keep in mind this is my recollection of events and in every dispute there are 2 sides. All comments good or bad are welcomed.

For a detailed view look download the pdf here.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I Doth Protest

Heavy winds last night, gusts to 21 knots, swells 6 feet. Had a great start and first mark rounding on the second mark rounding, however, had a bit of a mishap. Us and them...Were on both on starboard broad reach layline to the mark. We were the leeward boat in the lead and the other boat had overlap at the zone. We gave the other boat buoy room as prescribed by the code. They Gybed ahead of us on the outside, I took the opportunity to Gybe on the inside to perhaps get a better position. During the gybe our jib sheet got knotted (we did complete the gybe), the other boat took what I consider to be a tactical rounding and headed up fast and hard. My two options were to head up to the wind (close to the mark) and risk getting pushed through the wind, backwinding the jib with a tangled sheet or bear off hard and go down below. I chose to bear off and head down as I felt it was the safest option to do so.

I attempted to duck his stern and scratched his port stern gelcoat, as the bow was completing the turn I managed to grab his motor and took it clean off. His bracket was damaged and motor gone but we continued to race. I felt horrible after this. It was a mere inch and I would have cleared his stern.

A protest ensued, I reviewed the rules. By the strict rules I did not keep clear astern and had no rights, I did however give him buoy room which I believe he took to far. He argued proper course (I think can be a bit of a gray area, and at one point during the informal talk he admitted to not leaving me enough room to head up) but in the end in the interest of making friends not enemies I withdrew my protest. After all it was not the race that mattered to me, it was the welfare of the crew and others aboard. There will be other races.

Will see what the end result is in time I guess.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Shuffling the deck

Took some time this weekend and moved some of the deck layout around. Moved the main halyard controls to the mast, moved the topping lift to just below the mast with a swivel mount, moved the jib to to just below the mast as well on the companionway top. Also put cam cleats on the rails for the trimmer. Took the boat out for a spin on Saturday to check out the new config. Everything seems to be working smoothly.

Still prepping for CORK. Winds look ok for tomorrow. Will update after race.